University aims to uncover value of personal data

London’s Queen Mary University is conducting reseach into how valuable people rate their own personal data.

In the research, volunteers are invited to install a free Android app on their phone.

The app will ask users some basic information about their background, then ask for more information daily over the next two weeks. Queen Mary says this will emulate the sort of information web companies are combing from their users every day.

Included questions will be intrusively private, but the sort of answers apps are able to take from user behaviour which is taken for granted: what you are doing, how you feel about what you are doing, where you are, who you are with, and how much the information would be worth to you. It’s no secret that this sort of information is given away for free, online, every day.

What this research actually will be worth to volunteers is the chance to win between £10 and £100 in Amazon vouchers through a prize draw.

Dr Bernadette Kamleitner, from the School of Business and Management, who is leading the study, said personal information is a huge and poorly regulated business. “Although consumers can benefit from the use of their information by receiving customised offers,” Kamleitner said, “aother’s also use individual’s data to make money”.

The University is hoping that that the test will help the researchers understand which data people think is more or less valuable to them. It will also show, the university said, whether people genuinely think personal information has no price.

To get involved, head to